The Dash Diet

The Dash Diet

 The Dash Diet (3.5 / 5)

The DASH Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a specially formulated diet plan that is recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure, or for people who have a high risk for prehypertension. The premise is that the DASH Diet will prevent and lower high blood pressure (US News). According to the Official DASH Diet website, this diet plan was proven successful in studies completed by the National Institutes of Health.

For this diet, sodium reduction is a major aspect; expect to consume up to 1500 to 2300 milligrams a day. Your daily meal plan should include 6 to 8 servings of grains, 4 to 5 servings of vegetables, and 4 to 5 servings of fruit. You should also include 2 to 3 servings of dairy, and up to 6 servings of lean poultry, fish, and meat. Each week you should aim for 4 to 5 servings of nuts, legumes, and seeds. Use fats and oils sparingly, at a range of 2 to 3 servings per day. Sweets, of which one serving is equal to one teaspoon of sugar or jelly or an 8 ounce serving of lemonade, are not banished completely; you can eat up to 5 servings per week. As for alcohol, the DASH diet permits one alcoholic beverage for women per day and up to two drinks a day for men.

BENEFITS OF THE DIET

The DASH diet equates to a balanced diet that will provide you with the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and starches. It is easy to follow in the sense that you are given a set amount of servings per food group to eat daily and weekly. If you are vegetarian or vegan, or if you require a gluten-free or low-salt diet, the DASH diet accommodates well with these preferences (US News). The DASH diet is also inexpensive to start as you can read a free guide online for the diet plan. There are no required meals or packaged meal systems to purchase. You won’t have to attend any meetings with other dieters. Last but not least, the DASH diet is heart-healthy and nutritionally sound.

DRAWBACKS OF THE DIET

The DASH diet does not address caffeine consumption even though it affects high blood pressure (MAYO Clinic). You are expected to talk to your doctor about your ability to use caffeine, which may be an issue for dieters who are interested in using this form of diet without the advice of a physician. The dietary requirements of the DASH diet will leave you lacking in vitamin D intake. You are advised to use a supplement or to eat foods that are fortified with this vitamin (US News). Another concern with the DASH diet is that there is no social component; you are expected to hold yourself accountable, which may be an issue for dieters who depend on a support system for success (Consumer Search). Also, as you are on your own with the DASH diet, there is lots of grunt work involved. You need to be proactive to plan your meals and snacks rather than depending on a prepared meal system to keep you on track with the diet. As a result, you will also spend more on the foods that are part of the DASH diet. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products are more costly than precooked, packaged foods that are ready to eat, which are also higher in sodium, sugar, and fats (US News). Finally, although the DASH diet recommends exercise, it is not a prominent part of the plan; you aren’t given an exercise regime or list of useful exercises to complete.

RECOMMENDATIONS

I see the DASH diet as effective if you consider it more of a lifestyle change. Also, the addition of exercise should be implemented as a part of your life change, as exercise of at least 30 minutes a day has shown dramatic results in reducing health risks including hypertension. Since you are not focused on cutting calories or eliminating certain food groups, such as carbohydrates, you could follow the DASH recommendations for as long as you want without repercussion. However, if you are someone who depends on social support to stick to a diet plan, you may want to create your own DASH diet support group. Lastly, while the foods are pricier in comparison to processed and packaged foods, the lasting benefits of eating healthier will save you money on inevitable health costs, such as heart disease or hypertension.

RESOURCES

Consumer Search: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) http://www.consumersearch.com/weight-loss-programs/dash-dietary-approaches-to-stop-hypertension
MAYO Clinic: Nutrition and Healthy Eating — DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dash-diet/HI00047
The DASH Diet http://dashdiet.org/default.asp
US Health News: DASH Diet http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/dash-diet

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